Sex, drugs, rock and roll – three words that perfectly describe the lives of musicians. No matter how. The stereotypical image of a rock star has long faded into the background, and the modern music industry is increasingly dominated by those who do not really like to appear in public at all – introverts. How can this be explained and why shocking has only an illusory significance? We understand everything in order.
What does science say?
Before delving into scientific research, it is worth clarifying: an introvert is a person who prefers harmony with the inner world to crowds of people. We often think that introverts are shy, but this is not necessarily the case. Shyness and introversion are two different things. What is more important here is what you “charge” from: from the people around you, like extroverts, or from calmness and silence, like introverts.
Over the past decades, scientists have delved more and more into the problem of determining personality types, what factors can influence segmentation, why extroverts behave this way and introverts differently. Studies show that the division of people into introverts and extroverts is directly related to individual differences in brain function. Introverts have more blood flow in the frontal lobes of the brain and the anterior thalamus – these areas are responsible for problem solving and planning. It’s like a biology lesson in 9th grade, but bear with us, to answer a million questions about introverted musicians, you need to get into the theory.
The researchers did not stop there: the very frontal lobes that are so active in introverts are covered by the frontal cortex. And as it turns out, the frontal cortex is very important for storing musical information in working memory and for recognizing structural musical patterns. These same frontal lobes are activated when you play music. More information about the results of scientific research can be found here (in English). Such seemingly dry scientific evidence explains at least two observations: why introverts can make great musicians and artists in general, and why so many artists are introverts. To understand better, you need, literally, to get into their brains – the answers to all questions are already there.
Introversion is not a barrier
Even though there is an image of a star with constant public appearances and live concerts in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators, the musicians themselves often turn out to be introverts. At the same time, they can dance in feathers on stage, jump right into the crowd and rock everyone – from the front rows to the stands. Outrageousness and publicity, which are sometimes inherent in musicians, can turn out to be nothing more than just a wrapper. That same musicality and sense of being in music is what is really important in the career of an artist. Not infrequently, these special features are found precisely among introverts, to whom nature itself has given a predisposition to a special perception of music.
If you are an aspiring musician who is shy of the public and feels uncomfortable in crowds of people, this does not mean at all that it is time to put an end to your dreams of collecting Madison Square Garden or Wembley. Your shyness may just be another sign of exceptional musicality, and not a problem on the way to your goals. Follow the examples of music industry legends who not only didn’t let introversion stop them, but also made it their trump card and recognizable trait.
Being an introvert, musicians have several options for getting out of the situation: someone completely hides their face, as Sia and Marshmello do, someone just remains themselves and awkwardly but nicely communicates with fans and the press, and someone is experiencing a real transformation and leaves any constraint behind the scenes, becoming a rock star on stage. There are many examples, but each of them proves that you can be absolutely free in music.
Marshmello is an American music producer and the perfect example of an artist who just doesn’t want to be recognized everywhere and all the time. He is known for his collaborations with top musicians, but since his breakthrough in 2016, the public has not seen his face – he hides it behind a helmet. Despite a huge amount of rumors and conjectures, Marshmello remains adamant and denies the theories that are shared not only by interested fans, but also by the media. For example, Forbes believed that a certain Chris Comstock was hiding behind the helmet, but Marshmello later denied this information.
“I don’t take off my helmet because I don’t want or need fame. I sincerely try to create something with which people could feel connected, ”the artist shared in an interview. We do not know all the details of Marshmello’s life and stage image, but we can safely say one thing – if you do not want to reveal your identity, then a helmet, mask, long bangs, etc. can come to your aid.
Sometimes musicians just get used to the press and the public, going through panic attacks and crazy adrenaline rushes. They do not hide behind a mask, but often disappear from the radar. For example, Adele is, without exaggeration, a symbol of British music.
“I afraid of the public. Once, during a show in Amsterdam, I got so scared that I ran through the fire escape. Several times I felt sick. I just have to endure it. I don’t like to go on tours and I often have panic attacks,” admitted the artist. Despite the asocial, as for the world famous singer, lifestyle, Adele does not lose her popularity. By the way, now she practically does not appear in public – participation in Saturday Night Live in October 2020 was her first public appearance in four years.
Ed Sheeran, who now and then goes on a sabbatical, adheres to the same lifestyle. And the Icelanders Kaleo, who have little contact with the fans from the stage. Closeness does not make them less driving and incendiary, and a small number of interviews and public appearances do not take away a single gram of popularity. Neither Adele, nor Sheeran, nor hundreds of other musicians closed in themselves, introversion did not prevent them from achieving stunning success.
It is not uncommon for artists to experience real transformations on stage. Backstage, they may be silent, but during the show they seem to turn into a different person – the king of pop Michael Jackson is the clearest example of this.
“I sat and said: “please don’t call, don’t touch me, I’m too shy.” But as soon as I got on stage, I pulled myself together, because this is real magic. When you feel the spotlight on you, I swear, all these feelings pass, ”Jackson said in an interview. Friends and colleagues described him as the most closed and shy person, which cannot be said about Michael, who tore stadiums into pieces and set the rhythm of the entire music industry. By his example, Jackson showed that introverts can experience real metamorphoses when they go on stage. If you are embarrassed to speak, then Michael alone tells you – it’s worth a try. The skill of a cool performance can be pumped through constant practice. Who knows, maybe all your insecurities will remain behind the scenes, and a real star will enter the stage.